Productivity Hacks for a Better Summer!

It’s a good time for us to share a few useful productivity hacks to help make your work more effective (and your summer more fun).

Be an Early Bird

Summer days mean that many parts of the country begin seeing the first light as early as 4:30 a.m. This is the perfect time of year to experiment with getting up earlier and getting a head start on your day.

Admittedly, it’s not easy to do — perhaps you could go to bed a little earlier, or shorten the time you linger over your first cup of coffee — but there is definitely a correlation between early birds and high performers.

Early morning is quiet. It’s peaceful. There are no distractions. Accomplishing two hours of work before people at your company officially begin their business day is an amazing feeling — and a remarkably focused and productive time period for you!

Here’s a tip to maximize this productivity hack: want to keep your quiet time to yourself? If you need to send an email, schedule it for later delivery (e.g., an email written at 6:15 a.m. might be scheduled to go out at 8:45 a.m.). That way, no one responds or calls, and you keep your early productive time for yourself.

Start (and End) Every Meeting On Time — ALWAYS!

It is well documented that a meeting that starts late will be less productive than one that begins on time. We all know the frustration of arriving at a meeting on time — in person or remotely — and waiting “just a few minutes” for one or two other people to arrive. It wastes time. People begin checking their phones. Socializing. Completing other tasks. The whole team loses focus.

So wherever you have the opportunity — from CEO to project leader — simply begin the meeting on time. Period. No exceptions. Announce this change beforehand as a new operating standard, or rule of engagement, so no one feels surprised or called-out, and implement it immediately. This simple change will increase the productivity of your meetings significantly.

Do the same with meeting end times. Meandering extended meetings drain energy. People get impatient and it’s not good for positive team behaviors. A 60-minute meeting that goes 75-minutes could easily disrupt someone’s NEXT meeting or planned work as well. If meeting attendees know that a one hour meeting will actually end in one hour, it helps them stay attentive and wanting to move efficiently through the agenda.

How to super-charge this productivity hack: here’s a second rule to help reinforce meeting start times — if a person arrives late, spend no time “catching them up.” It’s tough love, but it changes behavior and helps people recognize the importance of being completely ready when the meeting begins. Also, it respects those who arrive on time by not having them sit through material twice — why should I show up on time if you’ll give someone else the short version at 8 past the hour when they arrive with fresh coffee in hand?

Take a Deep Breath

With multiple priorities and heavy workloads, we all get stressed out. Whether we are in the office or working from home, we get in the flow of a project and immerse ourselves in it. But that flow can also result in spiraling tension and stress — we suddenly realize that we’ve been hunched over our computer for three hours on a project… And barely taking a breath.

As stress, tension, urgency, and pressure builds, we unconsciously take shorter, shallower breaths. Sometimes we’re hardly breathing at all. Not good!

Slow, mindful, deep breathing is an easy, simple way to pause and decompress. Just a minute or two of calm, long, slow breaths settles us down. It relaxes us. It clears our mind. It helps us regain positive focus and attitude.

Make the most of this productivity hack: it’s also important to take brief, regular breaks. Set a timer. Get into a routine. Whenever you take a short break, make two minutes of deep breathing a habit — an automatic part of every break.

Extra bonus: look at Nature! Studies show that taking a break — even brief breaks — that include nature leave you more refreshed on your return! 

Work on These (and Other) Productivity Hacks

Some of these ideas may not be new to you. But have you worked on them and gotten to the point where you have built “muscle memory?” That’s the only way to make any productivity hack a habit. Work on one at a time over the next several weeks and see which are most helpful for you. Enjoy the summer!

Here are links to additional Arden Coaching productivity hacks and wellness tips to help make you more efficient and effective:

Want to see even more? Here’s a well-done “top 100” listing of productivity hacks for you to explore.

To learn more about setting goals, changing behaviors, and developing your leadership skills, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.